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This week the Chief Archivist’s Annual Report on the State of Government Recordkeeping 2019/20 was tabled in the House of Representatives.

Archives New Zealand has a critical Public Records Act 2005 regulatory role to ensure that public sector organisations understand their PRA requirements to create and maintain full, accurate and accessible records. The State of Government Recordkeeping 2019/2020 highlights important work such as the Open Government Partnership (an international agreement by governments to create greater transparency), and effective information management during a pandemic. It also discusses the completion of our new monitoring framework, which includes the annual survey of public sector information management, a new information management maturity assessment, and the resumption of Public Records Act audits.

The report highlights that there is still significant room for improvement across the system. This is reflected in the findings of the five key indicators of the survey, included in this report. When government organisations create and manage information well, they can trust it, understand it, find it and protect it. this supports New Zealanders to access information about the work of the public sector, and about themselves, protecting their rights and entitlements.

Rights and records are inextricably linked, and the importance of good information management and recordkeeping has become even clearer as the work of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historic Abuse in Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions (Abuse in Care Inquiry) progresses. When time and resources are limited, information management can seem like a ‘nice to have’ bureaucratic exercise, but the Abuse in Care Inquiry demonstrates how critical government accountability is to the lives of citizens, to their sense of identity, their connection to family and whānau, and to their rights and entitlements.

Key areas of concern include access to personal records, inadequate collection or creation of data, inadequate recordkeeping by public sector organisations and their agents, and the importance of enabling the sharing of full and accurate information. These examples appeared in inquiry reports, public hearings and media articles during 2020.

We will continue to work closely with organisations, particularly those that look after our most vulnerable, to ensure that full and accurate records are created, managed and kept accessible.

Executive Sponsors and IM staff should keep an eye out for an series of engagement sessions around the State of Government Recordkeeping and the forthcoming Survey Findings Report.

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